TL;DR: Should You Pull?
What Does It Do?
Hail to the queen!
Sonia has made her grand, triumphant return. At her side is a glorious sight that we’ve not seen grace this game in quite some time (outside of eggmons, and Morty & Ho-oh who doesn’t count due to coming out later); a Shiny Pokemon! And which Shiny Pokemon might this be? None other than the queenly Tsareena. While we’ve seen this Pokemon before alongside Mallow, this is no Tech Sync Pair; Sonia & Tsareena are here for one reason: to crush the opposition with pure power!
So what do the stats say about Sonia & Tsareena? They have fairly decent bulk for a Striker, allowing them to take a hit or two and keep going. And.. that’s where the advantages really end, stat-wise. Their Attack is pretty danged low, and their Speed is an issue, as we’ll discuss soon. While we’d normally talk Moves next, we’re going to shift gears and check out their passive Skills first, as they change the overall dynamic of Sonia & Tsareena a bit more than with many other Sync Pairs. To start with, we have Hit the Gas 5, which offers a huge damage boost to attacking moves at the cost of 1 additional Move Gauge bar per use. This leads into Power Flux 9 and Sync Power Flux, which grant a damage boost to Attacks and Sync Moves respectively based on how full the Gauge is when they are queued up. These skills are simultaneously synergistic and antithetical to one another, because they make the move gauge more important than with most other Sync Pairs while making it harder to manage when combined with Sonia & Tsareena’s lackluster speed at the same time.
With the light of those skills and how they simultaneously work together and against each other out of the way, we can now take a better look at moves. To start with, Razor Leaf is now a 3-bar move that hits all opponents. Its damage isn't great, but it’s nice for a bit of clean-up or Move Gauge preservation. Power Whip is the main move on display for damage, as it has a high base power and 4-bar cost, though its 85% accuracy is a bit of a let-down…. at least until we come to Ohohoho!, which is Sonia’s first Trainer Move. This 2-use skill grants +2 Accuracy, a whopping +3 Critical Rate, and 1 stack of the Physical Move Up Next effect on activation. Finally, X Attack is… X Attack. 2 uses, +2 Attack per use; it’s effective, but nothing that we haven’t seen before.
As should be pretty obvious from the above review, this is one of those Sync Pairs; the kind that offsets their low stats with tremendous boosts. When you take their Grid into account (which we’ll discuss later) and properly build your team around them, Sonia & Tsareena are capable of hitting very hard overall. While their Attack move damage is a bit low, they more than make up for it with potentially large Sync Move damage that can even go AoE if they’re EX unlocked. This is a no-nonsense Sync Pair with one main goal; drop an entire forest on the opponent before they have the chance to respond!
But we also have to deal with the… rather large flaw in Sonia & Tsareena; the fact that their kit kind of fights itself, as previously stated. On the one hand, they want to attack when the Sync Gauge is as close to full as possible, yet you also want to use a 4-bar move despite their low base speed. And they also want to preserve the Move Gauge for their Sync move, which is normally a point in the battle where most teams get a bit of breathing room gauge-wise. This is a bit of an issue that can leave them ineffective if not used correctly, as they’re going to need team support in order to leverage their advantages properly. On top of this, their damage isn’t exactly that great. It’s definitely on the high and worth using, but they don’t really keep up with many of the tremendously high damage Sync Pairs that we’ve gotten used to seeing recently, so using them over of the many existing Grass Type attackers isn’t likely to be a tremendous difference.
Champion Stadium: Master Mode
On any stage weak to Grass, Sonia & Tsareena can definitely pull their own weight, hitting very hard. Sonia & Tsareena can also tear up many stages with a bit of Sun support with a ⅗ grid, especially on stages that have permanent field effects.
Legendary Arena & Gauntlet
While Grass isn’t a super common weakness, Sonia & Tsareena have the raw power potential needed to be useful for taking down Legendary Pokemon given proper team support. The Gauntlet in particular also makes doubled-up type coverage more valuable than it once was.
Outside of a grass weakness and/or a Galar advantage, many of these stages will see Sonia & Tsareena as…. Fine. They’re good at dealing damage, and that’s their main use.
Sonia & Tsareena can drop the entire enemy team’s Defense with Razor Leaf and their grid, but that’s about the only really Villa-worthy effect that they bring to the table.
How To Use It?
These are generally the most important tiles to pick up:
- Haymaker (⅗) is a top pick for any Sync-build, though it will require team support or one of the soon-to-be-mentioned X Attack boosting tiles in order to complete. Basically any good team comp will fill in this hole anyway.
- Locked-On Sync 3 (⅗) is a 30% damage-boost to Sync Moves, but it has a rather unique feature in its wording: “Powers up the user’s Sync Move when its accuracy is raised”. This tile doesn’t require maxed Accuracy to max the boost, as even +1 Accuracy is enough for it to fully activate.
- Furious Brawn (⅗) can provide about 20% more damage at +6 Attack, making it a great pick-up for more move damage.
- Speeding Sun 3 (⅖) can be a huge help for Tsareena’s Speed on a Sun team.
- Solar Flare 5 (⅗) and Charging Sun 3 (⅗) offer huge dividends on Sync Moves and Attacks respectively when its sunny.
Next are the tiles that are nice to have, but are either niche or not generally worth going out of the way for:
- Insult to Injury (⅖) offers another 20% damage at -6 Defense. It takes more effort to max than Furious Brawn as it will also require team help and/or Defense Crush 9 to activate, but it’s still worth picking up.
- X-Attack: Berserker 1 (⅗) is the best way to make Sonia & Tsareena offensively self-sufficient, as it can max out Attack in 2 uses. However, not all builds will be able to afford this tile, as teammates will generally be the better option for maxed Attack.
- Defense Crush 9 (⅗) is great for letting Sonia & Tsareena outright snowball their and/or their team’s damage output while also setting up Insult to Injury
- Twofer 2 (⅗) has fairly low odds of taking effect, but it will tend to benefit the move gauge more than other Move Gauge Refresh tiles on average.
- Power Whip: Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅖) is okay, but it’s nothing worth going too far out of the way for unless you find yourself languishing under Sonia & Tsareena’s low speed.
- Razor Leaf: Move Gauge Refresh 3 (⅗) can be useful if you intend to use Sonia & Tsareena to melt the opposing team’s Defense via Defense Crush 9.
Finally, these are the tiles that are probably best to ignore unless they somehow play into a bigger strategy in some way:
- X Attack: MP Refresh 3 (⅕) is ultimately inferior to Berserker 1, as it requires luck and an additional move use to max out Sonia & Tsareena’s Attack stat, but if you have no Attack support from your team to finish the job and want to go in another direction with their grid for whatever reason, then its ease of access can make it an acceptable alternative at times.
- Ohohoho! MP Refresh 3 (⅖) can be used to stack up some additional Physical Move Up Next stacks, but using this for that effect alone instead of an attack will generally result in a net-loss in damage. Still, it’s better than nothing if you need to make some kind of move while waiting for the gauge to rise.
- Wide Awake (⅕) is a nice pick for a ⅕ Sonia & Tsareena or for stages that make use of Go Viral 9 sleep, but it’s ultimately inferior for most builds.
Sync Grid Levels & EX Viability
This is a Sync Pair that uses low base stats with huge boosts, and also has very high Sync Move damage. If you pull them, then getting them to 20/20 and EXing them is a definite priority, as it will not only give them about 7% more base Attack, it will also make their powerful Sync Move AoE, making it a potential screen-clear on some stages. However, this viability is also pretty closely tied to their Sync Move level, as their Grid needs to be high leveled in order to function properly.
⅗ is obviously the gold-standard here. This is where the vast majority of the most important tiles become available. At this level, Sonia & Tsareena are capable of high Sync Move damage, and good move damage as well.
⅖ sees a substantial decrease in power. All but one Sync Nuke tiles are locked out, as well as Furious Brawn. These losses equate to a pretty impactful loss in terms of raw numbers. In general, this represents about a 20-40% damage loss when compared to ⅗ depending on the Sync Grid build chosen, so getting that last level is pretty important if you feel that the investment is worth it.
The difference between ⅕ and ⅖ isn’t huge, but falling even more from the grace that is ⅗ hurts. Honestly, a ⅕ Sonia & Tsareena is usable, but not exactly useful to any great degree. At ⅕, Sonia & Tsareena can only hit for about half of their potential, so anyone who really wants to nab this Sync Pair should really be prepared to use Striker Candies or spend gems to go beyond ⅕.
As is pretty much always the case, Critical Strike 2 is the best choice from the general pool, though the Deluxe pool can offer even more power with Weathered Warrior 3 for anyone going for a Sun-centric build, or Super Powered 3 if you plan to strictly use Sonia & Tsareena to prey on Grass-weak stages.
Sonia & Tsareena are going to need some help to hit for maximum numbers. Builds that don’t pick up a relevant tile will need Attack support, and basically any build will want some form of Move Gauge support. Hilbert & Samurott and Kiawe & Alolan Marowak are great for filling these holes, as are Professor Sycamore & Xerneas, as the mere 2-attack deficit is likely to be passively filled by the time Sonia & Tsareena are ready to start going to work. When Attack isn’t an issue, general Speed buffers are great options as well. Palentines Serena & Whimsicott, and Anniversary Skyla & Tornadus are all stand-out for this, with the latter in particular also scoring potential Defense drops on the opposing team for even more damage. When it comes to scoring Defense drops for Insult to Injury, Sync Pairs like Elesa & Emolga, Ingo & Accelgor, Masked Royal & Incineroar, or Kukui & Lycanroc are all useful partners to have around, with the last two in particular also granting additional utility with Speed boosts.
Sun builds will obviously need a bit of weather support, though Sync-Sun Sync Pairs will tend to be a bit less impactful, as a solid portion of Sonia & Tsareena’s damage output comes from their high Sync Move damage. Sygna Suit Erika & Leafeon, Morty & Ho-oh, and Anniversary Raihan & Flygon are all great options, while Maxie & Groudon can raise the sun for about 2 Sync Cycles, or 4 at ⅗ with a Sync Move, while also providing solid AoE damage, or even more Grass damage with Solar Beam. Just note that this team comp will almost require Speed support to operate well. Even the old-fashioned Blaine & Rapidash can work here, as their high base Speed is a bit helpful in its own right.
Is It Worth Pulling?
Sonia & Tsareena bring more damage potential to a type that’s definitely fallen behind the times in terms of power, which gives them some real utility. However, they also don’t quite reach the numbers as many of the absolute monsters that we’ve been seeing as of late, so they’re definitely not must-haves for many players. In fact, their competition is still able to put up enough of a fight to stay very relevant despite being outclassed, so many players can feel safe skipping this banner. That said, anyone who does feel that their Grass attackers are lacking, or anyone who just wants to amass more general power will definitely be able to reap the rewards that Sonia & Tsareena bring. They are doubtlessly effective, and definitely worth consideration.
We sincerely apologize for the delay on this article, being released close to the end date of the banner. The author had the draft ready ahead of schedule but I failed to schedule a proper timeline for the review and publication that would have been more suitable for the banner's period. We strive for quality above quickness so we are convinced that we should still take the appropriate time to publish our articles in a satisfying state but we will keep working hard to improve the consistency of our scheduling and publication process in the upcoming months to avoid those situations as much as possible. Thanks for your understanding!
Spark - GamePress Site Lead for Pokemon Masters EX